1 9 7 2 – 1 9 7 4 (UK)
52 x 30 minute episodes
The series also starred Nyree Dawn Porter as the rather grandly named Contessa di Contini – the British widow of a wealthy Italian aristocrat – and Tony Anholt as handsome Parisian Paul Buchet.
‘The Protectors’ was an organisation formed to protect those in peril, and staffed by members of the world’s finest detective agencies. Ordinary people, big business, even governments could call for help from The Protectors – provided the cause was just.
American Rule had an ultra-modern office in London, while the Contessa lived in a villa in Rome and Buchet was based in Paris.
Together the trio fought international crime around some of Europe’s top resorts, with the de rigueur sleek cars (Rule drove a Jensen Interceptor while the Contessa rocked a Rolls Royce), sleek women (Rule’s karate-chopping Japanese au pair, Suki – woof woof), and buttressed by big name guest stars.
Working ‘outside the law’, the organisation used the skills of its members, its huge money resources and its amazing armoury of scientific gadgets in the cause of justice.
Completing the international lineup was Guyana-born Anthony Chinn, who played Chino, the Contessa’s strong arm chauffeur and bodyguard.
New Zealand-born Porter recalled how she was offered her role in The Protectors by ITC chairman Lew Grade himself; “I was sitting at a table at an awards ceremony when, suddenly, a cigar appeared over my shoulder followed by Lord Lew. “My dear,” he said to me “I’d like you to do a series for us”.
I said, “How lovely, can I see the scripts?” To which he replied, “Don’t worry they’ll be written for you. Now, who would you prefer as your leading man, Gene Barry, Chuck Connors or Robert Vaughn?”. Afterwards, I thought ‘What have I done?’ But it was all great fun.”
The series had one of the greatest theme tunes of all time – the classic Avenues & Alleyways (sung by Tony Christie). The song charted in the UK at #37 in 1973.
Another (unrelated) series called The Protectors screened in the UK in 1964 and concerned a security firm called SIS (Specialists in Security).
Contessa Di Contini
Nyree Dawn Porter